Strength training keeps your muscles toned. It can also build them up (bodybuilding). To become stronger, your muscles need to work against some kind of resistance. This causes them to contract, and the more they work by contracting, the stronger you get.
If practiced safely, weight training is a great way to build strength and endurance. Unlike aerobic training, resistance training helps build more muscle mass by creating small micro-tears in the muscle. New muscle grows back over the tears, and the muscle becomes stronger. Consult a doctor before starting weight training.
There are two main types of weight training:
- Free Weights — You can use free weights, such as hand weights and barbells, to work a group of muscles. Free weights sometimes require more strength than weight machines, so make sure you choose a weight you can handle, and use a spotter.
- Weight Machines — Weight machines usually work a single muscle or a smaller group of muscles. Use extreme caution when using weight machines – make sure that your hands and legs do not get caught in the machine. Have a fitness trainer show you how to use the machine.
Other Resistance Training
You can also use your own weight to build muscle. Exercises such as push-ups or sit-ups use your body weight to build muscle. You can also use resistance bands.
Be sure to talk to a fitness trainer before starting weight training. Here are some basic rules for beginners:
- Jog for five to ten minutes before you begin to warm up.
- Stretch after you warm up.
- Train at most two to three times a week for the first few weeks.
- Don't lift weights that you have to strain to lift. You'll feel very sore after the first few weight-lifting sessions.
- Only work one or two different muscle groups each workout.
- Allow a day of rest for each muscle group after each workout.
- Stretch and cool down after each workout to reduce soreness afterwards.
- Pay attention to nutrition and make sure you're eating right.
Important! If you feel a sharp pain or a "pop" while exercising, stop immediately and consult a trainer or coach before continuing.